Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#132: A Polamalu-Sized Hole

---"D" Might Now Be Less Than Stellar---

The fates were out to get him.

First, he's put on the cover of the new Madden video game.

Second, he's called for two very questionable penalties in the season opener vs. Tennessee.

Third, he's not even on defense when "it" happens.

Troy Polamalu seemed to be doomed from the outset.

The good news is that Pittsburgh's All-Pro strong safety will miss 3-6 weeks. That's a span that covers games against Chicago, Cincinnati, San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, and Minnesota. Three of those games are against non-conference opponents (hence, don't weigh as heavily in any tiebreakers in the case of a loss), and none are against Baltimore. The only game of true concern looks to be San Diego. Steeler fans saw how Phillip Rivers could, on occasion, make the D look kind of stupid. If Pittsburgh hadn't had such good ball control, that Divisional Playoff game could have been much tighter.

The added bonus is that even if Polamalu's injury takes the full length of time to mend, the bye week follows the Vikings game, so he'll have nearly eight weeks to heal and miss less than half the season's games.

Trying to determine how much he will be missed in the interim is a bit perplexing.

At first glance, it seems that Polamalu's absence is cause for great concern. Fans see him regularly blowing up plays in the backfield, or making a critical tackle (though he had a super off-game in Super Bowl XLIII).

Yet, if my math is correct, after Polamalu went out in the late 2nd quarter, the defense allowed 127 yards passing, and 42 yards rushing, for a total of 169 yards. Tennessee amassed a total of 320 for the game. Laying it out like that, it looks like the D gave up as many yards before the injury as after.

Tyrone Carter needs to come to play. He has the potential, but he also has a much greater ability to give other teams 15 yards for unsportsmanlike, late-hit-style penalties.

While I smell an upset in Chicago, I think Pittsburgh will be able to get to the bye week with a 5-2 record.


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